The Humble, Indispensable Coffee Table

When people started to get serious about drinking tea, coffee, and chocolate back in the middle of the 17th century, they needed tables to put the serveware on. The coffee table evolved out of these tables, specifically the butler’s table, whose top was removable so the butler could pick up the tea things all at once, and take them away. The modern coffee table comes in a great variety of styles, shapes, and materials, from traditional woods to plastics to glass to plexiglass.



This round coffee table is simplicity itself. It has a black, wrought iron frame and a glass top, and that is all. But its lack of fussiness makes it perfect for any modern living room and for any color scheme. Indeed, a homeowner might want to buy more than one and artfully arrange them about the room.


Multipurpose Coffee Table


This solid, deep chocolate brown coffee table looks like a slice out of a tree trunk, and it may well be. Besides being a resting place for a coffee or tea service or lunch, this coffee table can be cleared off to serve as an ottoman to rest the feet or as extra seating when all the other chairs or sofas are filled.


Thoroughly Modern

A homeowner shouldn’t hesitate to buy coffee table sets if there’s enough space in the living room. This set features one coffee table with tapered metal legs and a matching, split level coffee table with sleek curves that recall the style of Charles and Ray Eames. Both coffee tables in the set are made of rich, dark woods with a beautiful grain such as rosewood.



A piece of furniture is considered vintage if it was made the day before yesterday, and this cleverly made vintage coffee table was made for the 1963 World Fair. Curved in a way that resembles an artist’s palette or a boomerang, the top of this table swings out to reveal a lower level with compartments for bottles of wine and other spirits. The base is also a liquor cabinet that conveniently locks. Throwing a Mad Men themed party? This is the coffee table to use.

Another Retro Coffee Table

This coffee table with storage also harkens back to the middle of the last century and looks its best surrounded by furniture and decor of the same period. It has a shelf beneath its oblong shaped top that is a great place to store oversized books and magazines, and its base with its slightly tapered legs is gently curved and sturdy. This pleasing but straightforward coffee table was carved out of a pale wood such as maple.


An Alternative Coffee Table

This amazing, plexiglas table is just the thing for an open plan house with window walls that open up to bring in the sun and fresh air or give a spectacular view. What’s fascinating about this table is that it is also a modern style vitrine table whose bottom seems filled with beads of many colors. Such an unusual and playful piece of furniture does not even need the addition of a potted plant or coffee-table books to make it the focal point of a living room.


Glass Coffee Table

This coffee table is made out of a single piece of tempered glass. In this case, this glass coffee table was molded into shape while it was still hot in either a two-stage process or a chemical process that used ion exchange to make the glass very tough. As a result, tempered glass can stand some jostling and bear the weight of a large flower arrangement, heavy book or other objects without cracking. At the same time, it looks light as air. Definitely a 60s retro look, a homeowner can go bold with the decor that surrounds this table. Even a lava lamp would look good near or on it.


Fit for the Man Cave

This massive but beautiful coffee table is just the thing for the man cave. It has a wonderfully buffed butcher block top and a solid base painted blue-black. But the base isn’t just to support that heavy top. It is roomy enough to store equipment to outfit an entire sports team and other needful things. This coffee table is just right for a room with overstuffed armchairs decorated with nailheads and a blazing fireplace with a fieldstone surround.


Geometrical Coffee Table

This elegant metal coffee table with its many slender legs is made up of a circle placed on top of a rectangle. This gives it a sense of being superbly balanced. The coppery metal it’s made of is polished to the point where it reflects anything that is put on it. This table is great for a room whose homeowner loves a decor dominated by geometrical shapes, whether they are round planters, round, square or rectangular mirrors or paintings or photos in round or square frames.


Something Completely Different

Sometimes less is more. This perfectly square little table is made out of a piece of rough-hewn wood. It may have been wood that was repurposed from an old building. It has two widely spaced nails on each side and is capped at the corners with triangles of wrought iron that give it a Spanish flavor. Placed in a room with Oriental decor, this unassuming coffee table is a great place to rest a cup of warm chai.